Timetable revolution not so radical after all;Curriculum 2000

10th September 1999 at 01:00
David Blunkett has decided not to disrupt the basic structure of the curriculum. Sarah Cassidy reports.

The final version of the national curriculum for the new millennium published yesterday looks very similar to the version currently being taught in schools.

The review has failed to provide the radical slim down originally promised by the Government's curriculum quango.

But the final documents do go some way toward providing a clear and explicit rationale for the curriculum while increasing flexibility.

That said, teachers' room for manoeuvre has been limited by the introduction of initiatives such as the literacy and numeracy strategies and the Education Secretary's wish to promote citizenship.

Launching the review in May 1998, David Blunkett stamped his authority on the process, saying that minimum change was essential to ensure stability in schools.

Mr Blunkett stressed the importance of cutting enough curriculum content to allow teachers' to concentrate on literacy and numeracy. He added that teachers should have the professional flexibility to decide which topics to teach and how to deliver them.

Along the way the review's remit became more limited. Many secondary teachers had hoped it would make fewer subjects compulsory for 14 to 16-year-olds. Pupils must currently study English, maths, science, a modern language, religious education, design and technology, information technology and PE.

However, Mr Blunkett dashed their hopes in March when he announced that all subjects would remain mandatory and that the review must investigate other ways of increasing flexibility at key stage 4.

Teachers, academics, unions and local authorities were drawn into the 15-month process by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority which carried out the review.

Many were involved in an informal three-month consultation leading to a formal draft of proposals, approved by Mr Blunkett, which were published in May.

However, these proposals were condemned by teachers' leaders as not radical enough. They contained far too much content and would add to the overload already facing schools, they argued.

They were followed by a 10-week formal consultation, which produced just 3,180 responses and fed into the QCA's final draft produced last month.

David Blunkett revised these proposals and it is this version which was published yesterday and will be introduced in 2000.

Although schools were guaranteed at least five years of stability after Sir Ron Dearing's review, the new curriculum for 2000 will be almost continuously revised. There will be planned revisions of specific issues rather than a fixed cycle of complete review.

Curriculum advisers are already considering how a coherent 14-19 education phase could be developed, foreign languages could be taught to primary pupils and science lessons kept in step with the 21st century.

Every state school will be sent the new national curriculum documents after half term.

THE MAIN CHANGES SUBJECT BY SUBJECT

GEOGRAPHY

Sustainable development explicitly included for the first time.

Weather cut from primary study.

Detailed locational knowledge removed for seven to 14-year-olds.

MUSIC

Fourteen requirements across all key stages replacing 33 for primary pupils and 36 for secondary .

Infants will no longer have to record compositions using symbols; seven to 14-year-olds no longer have to use a range of tuned and untuned instruments.

ART

Renamed art and design to reflect its breadth and commercial importance.

Statements of what should be taught have been cut by half.

PE

Juniors must do only one of athletics or outdoor adventurous activities instead of both.

Competitive games are no longer compulsory for 14 to 16-year-olds.

IT

Renamed information and communication technology (ICT) to avoid confusion.

No reduction in content.

ENGLISH

Aligned with national literacy strategy for primaries.

Little change to ensure no disruption to national tests for seven, 11 and 14-year-olds.

Suggested non-fiction and contemporary authors listed for secondary pupils.

HISTORY

Inventors and pioneers included for the first time, in a bid to widen history beyond soldiers and statesmen.

Primary content cut by one third.

DESIGN amp; TECHNOLOGY

Primary content cut by one third.

Study of food now compulsory for 11 to 14-year-olds.

MATHS

Aligned with national numeracy strategy for primaries.

Little change to ensure no disruption to national tests for seven, 11 and 14-year-olds.

Key stage 4 programme divided into foundation and higher sections.

SCIENCE

Section dealing with science for everyday life integrated into the main programme of study to ensure all teachers cover it.

Investigative science strengthened in a section renamed Scientific Enquiry

MODERN LANGUAGES

Expected achievement levels for each key stage brought into line with other subjects.

Current restrictive list of non-EU languages has been removed.

QCA will provide non-statutory guidance on introducing languages in primaries.

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